Tag Archives: happiness

An Extra Hour Per Day!

As a result of our move, I’ve gain about an extra hour per day — half an hour in the mornings and half an hour in the evenings.  Even though we moved over a month ago,  I haven’t done anything concrete with that extra time, other than unpacking and decorating, but I would love some advice.

I know that some super-motivated time management gurus would suggest exercising or tackling a major project in the mornings.  After all, sleeping in isn’t really taking advantage of that extra time. However, I’m going to say now that sleeping in is my plan for the extra morning half hour.

What I am asking for is advice on what to do with the other half hour, after work. I really don’t want to waste it on watching TV or surfing the web.

Here are my ideas:

Nurture Relationships: Having more time and energy for kids and husband is always a plus. I want to really enjoy this extra time.  I promised my husband I would be less grumpy..now that can be a hard resolution to keep…

Career management: I can update my C.V., browse websites for job opportunities, update my Linked In profile, read career-related materials (which can also be done at lunch), attend networking functions.  I would love specific action items / tips.  BTW, here are some great career-building tips from Cloud/Wandering Scientist.

Exercise: At least once per weekday, I plan to take a class.  I’m also taking walks around neighborhood and can go to the park more often.  Now I can get home and take a nice walk with the kids in the time it used to take me to drive all the way home!

Cook and Plan Meals: I’ve slacked off in this area and would love to start planning healthier meals on weeknights, rather than relying on Trader Joe’s.

Chores…Ugh: I want to do some smaller chores on weeknights rather than saving them up for weekends.  With a long commute, I was tired and short on time. Now I guess I could pick up a mop once in a while. There are two almost opposing challenges to this idea. I hate chores YET I also worry that I’ll use my valuable “extra” time to doing chores.

What would you do with an extra half hour per night?  

How To Be Unhappy

I can’t write much about being happy, as my normal state is definitely not upbeat or cheerful.  However, after reading the fantastic and funny “This is How” by Augusten Burroughs, I was inspired to write about the elusive state of happiness.

In one chapter, Burroughs writes that the pursuit of happiness can have the opposite effect. This “goal” can make you frustrated and unhappy because that’s not your natural temperament.  However, he doesn’t use that as an excuse to live in a perpetual state of depression and unhappiness. His point is that it’s ok to feel just OK.

Right now, I feel surrounded by unhappy people.  I’m not excluding myself from this unhappy lot entirely.  However, after reading “This is How” and a slew of self-help articles, I do feel like an expert not about happiness but how to be unhappy.

This is how you can be truly unhappy:

  1. Dwell on things, especially on past events.
  2. Spend too much time on Facebook.
  3. Compare yourself to others.
  4. Lie to yourself.
  5. Regrets.  As Augusten Burroughs said, you can only live in the present.
  6. Worry about what others think.  This also contributes to financial problems!
  7. Hold on to grudges and what others have done or not done for you.
  8. Trying too hard to change others.  Most people won’t listen and you just get frustrated.

Do I have answers on how you can stop doing all of the above things?  No way.  I think the main reason I feel OK right now is that I’m trying to live in the present and not dwell on “what ifs”.  I have good days and bad days in terms of happiness.  I’m also not trying to be happy; feeling content with what I have and where I am is more do-able for my personality.  That’s not to say I don’t experience great moments of happiness, especially around my kids.

Of course age has something to do with my current attempts at being OK with my self. At some point, you just got to accept yourself and your life.

What do you think are the keys to unhappiness?

Old Happy Purchases

A lot of popular blogs and magazines  frequently feature things to buy. Spring is in the air! Time for new stuff in the latest colors! Everything you bought in previous seasons is out-dated!  I admit that I’ve been tempted so many times and if you are, too, you might need to do this little exercise, too.

Go through your house or closet and remind yourself of past purchases that still make you happy. You might be surprised that many things you thought of as “investment” pieces did not bring about as much happiness or return-on-investment as expected.  You might also get a small dose of happiness from old purchases and not feel the need to buy new things.  At least that’s what I was hoping when I wrote this post (inspired by my new spending mentality due to “Your Money or Your Life” Regular readers will be tired of my constant reference to this book by now).

So here goes my list of old purchases that still make me happy:

  1. Peacoat: A classic in blue that I got a good deal on
  2. Leather boots from Italy: Pretty and classic; needs a little shine!
  3. Party dress:  Looks like new because I only wore it once! I wish I had occasion to wear it again.
  4. Bathroom Cabinet: A small change that greatly updated our bathroom.
  5. Sweater Dress: Still pretty new. An excellent deal and so comfortable!
  6. Selected DVDs of classic TV shows: I can watch some shows over and over again.  Which reminds me of #7…
  7. Old books that I can re-read and that I never get bored of.
  8. Black fake leather purse: Maybe I’m too old for fake leather but I love it and don’t care. It’s sporty but still OK for work environments.
  9. Shiny black leather flats: I think I love it more because it’s from a designer brand.  The cobbler was doubtful about adding shoe taps on it until he turned it around and saw that it was made in Italy.
  10. Red Land’s End sweater: Work appropriate yet so comfortable. 
  11. Gray cardigan: I wear this all the time.  Hides the butt which makes it very practical, too.
  12. Dark jeans: It’s on the skinny jean side and I’m sure that trend is over but I do love it.

Just by doing this quick exercise, I realized that love for stuff can wear off pretty quickly.  For example, a pretty blouse from one of my favorite designers would have definitely made this list just two years ago.  It’s still in good shape but I don’t wear it as often anymore for some reason so I can’t say that I love it.

Ironically, in some cases, the more I’ve worn something, the more likely it will fall off the list because it doesn’t look shiny and new anymore.  Since I’m a complicated person (haha), I can also say that if an item does not get that much use, I love it less because it did not meet my expectations in some way.

Furnishings did not make the cut because my kids destroy furniture.  My favorite pillow is stashed in a closet out of reach and I’m tempted to sell or give it to someone who can really appreciate it.

Technology wasn’t included but I admit that I love the use I get out of various tech stuff.  I would give up many things before cutting internet access!

What old things are making you happy right now?  Please include clothing items, shoes, and purses so that I don’t feel shallow.

Buying Stuff For Happiness?

I’ve always been interested in the correlation between money and happiness.  Read enough “expert” articles and you read the same simple conclusion: Money does not make people happier.  While a certain level of financial security is important, what is really important for happiness is time with loved ones and good health.   If you want to increase your happiness via money, it’s better to spend on experiences (travel for example) over STUFF.  The joy over that shiny new toy disappears quickly while experiences stay with you and even seems better over time.  Most of the time this conclusion makes sense to me.   When I think about my backpacking trip through Europe, I remember the good times.  I’ve forgotten about the times I got lost, stress over train schedules, arriving at a city without a place to stay etc….   While I enjoy the benefits of my laptop, I don’t get happy thinking about it.

But what if you can’t buy experiences, as in you have no time?  I would love to get a massage or travel somewhere but it’s not possible right now and I want to spend a little on myself.  The only “solution” I see is to go to the J. Crew website ASAP and do some much needed retail therapy!  Maybe years from now, I will look at my new espadrilles and summer handbag and this STUFF will make me feel a moment of happiness?